Teenagers and children need a great deal of sleep but many get far less than the recommended amount. Leading scientists say that teens and children need about 9-10 hours of sleep each night, which is more than the recommended amount of 7-8 hours per night for adults. This lack of sleep can be very harmful for a growing body.
Sleep is the time when our bodies restore and rejuvenate themselves, and this is something that is especially true for teenagers and children. Their bodies and brains are undergoing a lot of change and this change requires enough sleep. Growth hormone is mainly secreted during sleep, so kids and teens who do not get enough sleep are impairing their natural growth process. Another important process that takes place during sleep is the balancing of hormones. Teenagers are going through puberty, which is a time where hormones can fluctuate greatly. Lack of sleep can cause an imbalance in the hormones that regulate moods, as well as obesity. In fact, a lack of sleep has been proven to lead to an increased risk of obesity for teens. This is because sleep balances hormones that regulate appetite, and if a teenager does not get enough sleep, these hormones can spiral out of control and can lead to a sharp increase in appetite. This appetite increase is not for healthy, fresh foods, but for food that affects blood sugar levels, like carbs, sugars, and fat.
Another benefit of sleep for a growing child or teen is the cell and tissue repair that takes place. Sleep is a great time of healing. It is also a time when the body produces the proteins that help fight infection and viruses. Lack of sleep can make a teen or child more susceptible to illness and can delay the healing process. Studies have shown that children or teens who get enough sleep have enhanced immune system responses, as compared to those who got fewer than the recommended number of hours of sleep per night.
Sleep also plays an important role in memory and learning. Sleep can help you retain what you’ve learned, and there are benefits of sleep both before and after learning a new task. There are three phases in memory- Acquisition, Consolidation, and Recall. Acquisition refers to the process of introducing new information to the brain. Consolidation is the process by which the memory becomes stable. And finally, recall is the brain’s ability to access information once it is stored. Sleep aids in all of these phrases, but consolidation is the phase that actually happens almost entirely during sleep. Scientists are not sure of the actual process through which this happens, but it has been proven that sleep greatly aids in being able to store memories for future recall.
Teenagers or children that do not get adequate amounts of sleep are also at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is because sleep affects how your body processes glucose. People who get less sleep process glucose more slowly, which is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and can also be harmful for the body in a variety of other ways.
Aside from these benefits, sleep can also improve mood, enhance the body’s ability to deal with stress, enhance focus and attention, and increase creativity. Teens and children who sleep enough at night have fewer behavioral problems that those who do not. Top elementary school teachers recognize this, and will often discuss sleep as a factor for a child’s behavioral issues with parents.
Overall, sleep is an incredibly important process for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for children and teens. If your child or teenager is not getting enough sleep, try to get a good understanding into why this might be and what you can do to change it. If you have a younger child whom you suspect may not be getting enough sleep, work with them on developing a healthy bedtime where they will get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. For a teenager, it can be more difficult to set a strict bedtime, but make sure to talk to them about what is preventing them from sleeping at a reasonable hour and try to help them make healthy changes as best you can. After all, their health is at stake!